GSA says high costs, low pay & awards, put grad students in poverty
The above chart was developed by the U of S Graduate Students Association to show the disparity between increases in tuition, cost of living, and inflation (Consumer Price Index) versus salary and scholarship levels over the past 10 years.
An executive member of the U of S Graduate Students Association charges that "the reality of earning a post-graduate degree today is learning how to survive poverty."
GSA Vice-President of Student Affairs Barb Sharanowski says over the past 10 years, graduate students have faced enormous increases in tuition levels and the cost of living.
Yet, she says, income and scholarship levels at the U of S have remained stagnant, not even increasing with inflation during the same time period.
The GSA drafted the table above, to show the disparity between increases in tuition, cost of living, and inflation (Consumer Price Index) versus salary and scholarship levels over the past 10 years.
The hourly wage for U of S graduate students has increased from $12.05 in May of 1990 to $13.80 in May of 2000. This is an increase of 14.5 per cent or $1.75 over a 10-year period, less than an 18-cent raise per year. Meanwhile, inflation has risen 21 per cent during the same time frame.
Sharanowski says, "departmental funding restrictions typically limit the maximum hours of work per week to under 10 hours."
She adds that full scholarship levels for graduate students havent changed since 1991-92 when they were set at $12,000 (Masters) and $15,600 (PhD) per year.
Sharanowski says these scholarship amounts "relegate the graduate student lucky enough to receive a full scholarship to living below the poverty line."
She cites the Canadian Fact Book on Poverty (1994) as stating that living in poverty is defined as spending more than 54.7 per cent of income on basic living expenses. Saskatchewan Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training lists $8,772 per year as the basic living expense for a single student living away from home. However, 54.7 per cent of a Masters and PhD scholarship is $6,564 and $8,533 respectively. Furthermore, the calculation for basic living expenses does not include tuition.
Sharanowski notes that departmental scholarships also have restrictions on the amount the recipient can work at a second job, to 20 hours per week or less.
She says, "if the University of Saskatchewan wants to be a research-intensive university, it must stand behind graduate students and support their research."
The University is planning to increase the number of graduate students by 700 in the next 10 years, says Sharanowski, "yet they are unable to support the students who are registered now."
She says the GSA continues to lobby the University for funds, and it hopes salary and scholarship levels will increase before registration numbers increase.
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